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Devilfish: When Giant Squid Ruled the Northern Sea by Jenny Higgins

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Mysterious and fearsome, giant squid are the legendary sea monsters that early seafarers believed lurked in the dark ocean, lying in wait to drag ships to the bottom. In this richly illustrated history, author Jenny Higgins explores the myths, facts, and stories of giant squid in the North Atlantic Ocean.

Type: hardcover with interactive pullouts

The world did not truly believe in giant squid until the 1870s, when record numbers of the mysterious creatures appeared in the waters and beaches around the island of Newfoundland. Photographs that appeared in international newspapers and physical specimens sent to ivy league laboratories accomplished what eye-witness accounts had been attempting for centuries: to prove beyond doubt that giant squid are real.

Thrilling tales and images of “devilfish” spread around the globe and shaped the animal’s public image as a delightfully terrifying enigma suspended at the boundary of fable and fact. As a newly acknowledged member of the animal kingdom, the giant squid was an object for scientific study. At the same time, though, the public imagination playfully cloaked the mollusc in mystery; a real-life sea monster who had acquired many of the attributes of the Kraken and sea serpent.

Devilfish contains more than 130 images and 10 pull-out facsimile documents. They are meant in equal parts to inform and delight—to explain the remarkable history of the giant squid while building a sense of wonderment and fun. Also included are dozens of bite-sized sidebars. Consider this a pop-up book for adults, grounded in research and reaching for the wondrous!


    Jenny Higgins is a writer and researcher living in Flatrock, Newfoundland and Labrador. Her work has been published in newspapers and magazines, on Memorial University’s Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Website, and broadcast on CBC Radio and TV. In 2014, she released her first book, called Perished: The 1914 Newfoundland Sealing Disaster. It won the Democracy 250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing. Her second book, Newfoundland in the First World War, was published in 2016. She also writes for Memorial University’s Maritime History Archive and the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Education.